I went to a job interview today. I WENT TO A JOB INTERVIEW TODAY!
This was a profound experience for me. It went fine. It was SO HARD. I was SO SCARED.
After we got married I quit my full time job and became a free-lancer. Then we had kids and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, it was easy to justify wanting to be a stay at home mom. I was grateful for even having the choice to stay at home. Ron wasn’t comfortable being the sole income provider but he traveled all the time and it was hard to handle his absences. I was never fully comfortable with leaving my career. I’d been raised by a single mom after my parents divorced and she struggled on her own. She’d always told me to be sure to support myself financially. I always thought I would do that. But then I married and had babies and had the cushion of Ron to fall back on. I didn’t really like the work I’d done in the past and lacked direction so it was easier to not go back. Throughout the time I stayed at home I took on occasional consulting assignments. I knew I had to keep my contacts and keep at least slightly tied to the outside of the home working world.
When we moved to Indonesia I thought it would be my big break. I would find work there and gain credibility for when we returned to the US and I re-entered the US full time work world. Then the plans came crashing down and we left Indonesia when Ron got diagnosed. I quit my consulting job the day he was diagnosed and didn’t work again until several months after he died. The work I did after he died was handed to me like a gift by a former boss in the company where Ron and I met. His boss wanted to help me and spread the word that I needed work. It was both really hard and also comfortably familiar to work there (I mostly worked from home seldom needing to show my face in the office). All these two years, I have known that at some point I would have to go back to work full time. I would have to make a change that would mean leaving the familiar and moving into territory where Ron never was, making plans that I didn’t forsee because Ron was always supposed to be there, cushioning my fall, cheering me on, talking through ideas, giving advice, supporting and loving me through the hard parts. He had encouraged me to take risks and try out a new career and I would make tentative steps to do so but never arrived anywhere. I lacked imagination and I was afraid of failure. I felt a degree of shame at times for leaving the working world. I felt spoiled and privileged. I loved being home with my babies and little children. I wouldn’t take that back. I just wondered what price I would have to pay for my choices and what that would mean in the future.
A job interview. I was so afraid I would be humiliated. I was so afraid they would think poorly of me and the experiences I had. I felt afraid of being judged. I have been so afraid to move forward with the loss of Ron and to make changes in my life. But the changes are starting. The reality is that they started the moment he died but now they are taking more visible shape and altering the structure that I have clung to of our lives. My life is changing and it needs to change but it is yet another part of accepting that Ron is dead and that I am a new person and it feels like something is being ripped away from me. And it feels terrifying.
I was so scared of sitting in front of a panel of people and having to explain myself and justify my decisions and actions that instead of being happy when I got the call for the interview I cried. I could barely eat in anticipation. I haven’t had this much anxiety since Ron was sick. Ironically (coincidentally?), it is three years ago exactly this week that we were medically evacuated from Jakarta and our lives were in extreme chaos—walking away from our house in Jakarta, emergency medical procedures, no place to live, our belongings in storage or needing to be shipped from Jakarta, withdrawing the kids from international school, re-registering them back in their schools in the US, etc. etc, etc. My anxiety this week was already high from all the sensory triggers. I just wanted Ron so badly. If he were here I still would have been nervous but he would have hugged me and said, “stop worrying, you are going to be fine!”.
So, the interview went fine. They seemed impressed by my experiences. They were friendly and the conversation flowed well. I don’t know if I am the right person for the job or if they will call me back for the next round of interviews. I don’t care much either way. I just wanted to have a positive experience and it was. I am so relieved this first hurdle is over. I survived my first face to face interview. When I got in the car at first I was happy and relieved and then the tears started and then the sobbing started. I needed to let out some of the tension and I just wanted Ron. I wanted to tell him that I did it. That he would have been proud of me. That I don’t mean to leave him behind by making changes, that I am not leaving him behind but that the time has come for me to make concrete steps to stabilizing our family and for me to figure out what is next in my life. I don't mean to leave him behind. My head knows that he goes where I go but my heart isn't convinced and it hurts. Ron would have been happy for me today. He would have brought me flowers or poured me a glass of wine and he would have been proud.
When I turned my phone back on after today’s interview and checked my email I found a message from another employer asking me to come in for an interview. No tears this time. I will be nervous. I still feel scared.
But, I can do it.